Hugo Koblet - 1951 Editions Rencontre card

Editions Rencontre - H. Koblet: Brive-Agen scan 1 main image

Hugo Koblet, Swiss, 1925 - 1964

This card was issued in 1977 by Editions Rencontre as a part of their card based encyclopedia. It features Hugo Koblet, winner of the Tour de France in 1951.

Hugo Koblet was nicknamed 'le pédaleur de charme'. According to Wikipedia he was strikingly handsome, made sure he had a comb and a bottle of eau de cologne in his jersey pocket, often combed his hair before the finish and always washed his face before having his photograph taken. At the end of the famous 1951 Tour stage from Brive to Agen - a stage in which he destroyed Coppi, Bartali, Bobet, Geminiani, Robic, Ockers and others with a stunning 135km solo break - L'Équipe reported:

"followers were astonished to see him sit up, blow kisses to girls and take out of his pocket a sponge soaked in water. He was barely across the line when he rinsed his face in Perrier, combed his hair, and then started his stopwatch."

After 1951 Koblet's form suddenly deserted him and his life turned from triumph to tragedy. In 1964, deep in debt, after his marriage had failed, and possibly suffering from poor mental health, he was killed in a car crash. His death was probably suicide. Wikipedia again:

"A witness, Émile Isler, saw Koblet driving his white Alfa Romeo at 120–140 kmh. between Zürich and Esslingen. He drove past a pear tree, turned then drove back. He passed it again finally turned a third time and drove into it."